Thursday, April 07, 2011

Japan has the best protests - "We're going to drink Fukushima sake together!"

Flower power protest hits downtown Tokyo |
"In defiance of the city’s government and its post-March 11 demands, some 300 Tokyoites gathered in a park in front of the iconic Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku on Sunday to have a little fun.
The brainchild of film critic Tomohiro Machiyama, this wasn't your usual protest. Instead of masks, armbands, and signboards, the participants came in casual wear, bearing plastic sheets, snacks and plenty of booze.

The peaceful -- if slightly buzzed -- sit-in was organized to shame government officials for their widely condemned requests to refrain from cherry blossom viewing parties.

Hanami, which (very) loosely translates into “getting drunk under the cherry blossoms with your pals,” is a venerable tradition in the capital.

A power shortage driven by the disaster in Fukushima has led many citizens to voluntarily engage in “self-restraint” with regard to electricity and crucial supplies.

But, nobody is sure why officials have asked people to refrain from gathering beneath the cherry blossoms -- an energy-saving activity if ever there was one.

The most recent of these demands came last week, when controversial Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara declared that, “this isn’t the time for doing hanami.”

It was an abrupt about-face for a man who only weeks earlier had dismissed the earthquake and tsunami as “divine retribution” for Japan's supposed greed. (He later apologized for the remarks.)

“It'd be one thing if they gave us a legitimate reason why,” shouted Machiyama against a backdrop of pink flowers in a toast to the crowd. “But they’re just telling us to stop! Who do you think you people are? We're going to drink Fukushima sake together!”

So much for the stereotype of the conformist, conflict-adverse Japanese...

...By the end of the night, the participants had raised more than ¥175,000 for the Devil Press Disaster Fund, founded by co-organizer Yoshiki Takahashi."

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